Last Night's TV: Marco's Great British Feast, ITV1
Celebrity Masterchef, BBC1

He could do with a slice of humble pie

"How do I make a fish pie in 15 minutes, aggravation-free? It's very simple." Yeah, well it is if you're Marco Pierre White. Your food stylist has already prepped all the main ingredients. The baby leeks have been washed and trimmed, the cheese grated, the fish neatly filleted and a cumulonimbus of downy mash is waiting ready to be spooned over the top of the assembled pie. No dirty pans, no steamy kitchen and no bloody aggravation, unless, that is, you get wound up by celebrity chefs pontificating airily about how easy cooking can be. How did I get this cross, though? We're not very far into Marco's Great British Feast and already I'm simmering away like a pint of double cream on the back burner. I've simply taken against him, in the way that one sometimes does when watching a television presenter, but since there's another 700 words to go I can't just throw the zapper at the screen and calm down. I've got to try and pin down why.

The rhetorical questions don't help, I think, a pompous tic that momentarily seems to imply that your opinion might actually be of interest to the questioner and then slams a door in your face by making it clear that his answer is the only one that matters. "Had I gone on this journey 10 years ago, would I have given them a say?" Marco asked, explaining that his quest for a purely British menu would include listening to the opinions of humble punters. "The answer is no," he concluded (though in the event, the difference between 10 years ago and today turned out to be not nearly as great as he was implying). Where some television presenters convey the feeling that they can't wait to share their enthusiasm with you, Marco effectively suggests that you're going to just have to sit still until he's finished what he's got to say. There's a flat, my-way-or-the-highway tone to his delivery that is mildly disconcerting at first but mounts to outright irritation, particularly if you're reckless enough to actually listen to what he's saying. "What better way of celebrating their life than by eating them?" he asked at one point, after shooting the main ingredients for his rabbit stockpot. I think rabbit's delicious, but even I could see that there were answers the rabbit might prefer.

What really got up my nose, though – lodged painfully up somewhere around the sinuses – was the programme's grandiose suggestion that it was in the vanguard of a culinary revolution, rather than belatedly bringing up the rear. "I am putting myself out there to fight for what I believe in," said Marco, as the opening credits showed him stalking across the South Downs to plant a giant Union flag on Beachy Head. The implication was that it was down to Marco to battle the shameful neglect of native bounty. "Every chef in Britain wants to go French," he said in tones of exasperation. "I don't get it." He must know that this isn't true, that there's actually been a great resurgence in domestic cooking recently, led by virtually every chef except Marco Pierre White, whose fidelity to French technique and style is well known. And if his belligerent self-regard had blinded him to that fact, the producers of the series were surely well aware that the road they were travelling had already been exhaustively mapped by Rick Stein in his Food Heroes programmes or the regional chefs competing in the BBC's Great British Menu series.

"What I'm looking for is realness," Marco had promised us at the outset. "I want realness on the plate, I want realness of the produce and I want realness of people's views." But it turned out that only views that were really approving were welcome. After a group of food historians gave his first trial dishes a lukewarm reception, Marco – with a graciousness that appears to be entirely characteristic of him – tore up the comments on camera and dismissed the group with an insult. "They looked like the Addams family," he muttered sulkily. He's a genius in the kitchen, though. He should get back in there.

Very few of the competitors in Celebrity MasterChef seem to have caught up with the British food movement yet, still getting all Pacific Rim and fusion the moment the ingredients will permit them. Indeed, the closest we got to a home-grown recipe last night was Joe McGann cooking colcannon. This series can irritate a little, too, usually when it artificially stacks the odds against a stand-out contestant so that it won't look like too much of a foregone conclusion, as they did with Andi Peters last night. But it does at least give some sense of what it is like to cook for real, assailed by lunatic inspirations and learning to live with the distressing gap between what you imagine the finished dish might look and taste like and the compromised reality that actually ends up on the plate.

Arts and Entertainment
Kathy (Sally Lindsay) in Ordinary Lies
tvReview: The seemingly dull Kathy proves her life is anything but a snoozefest
Arts and Entertainment

Listen to his collaboration with Naughty Boy

music
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Craig in a scene from ‘Spectre’, released in the UK on 23 October

film
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap

film
Arts and Entertainment

Poldark review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Katie Brayben is nominated for Best Actress in a Musical for her role as Carole King in Beautiful

film
Arts and Entertainment
Israeli-born actress Gal Gadot has been cast to play Wonder Woman
film
News
Top Gear presenter James May appears to be struggling with his new-found free time
people
Arts and Entertainment
Kendrick Lamar at the Made in America Festival in Los Angeles last summer
music
Arts and Entertainment
'Marley & Me' with Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jon Hamm (right) and John Slattery in the final series of Mad Men
tv
Arts and Entertainment
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Place Blanche, Paris, 1961, shot by Christer Strömholm
photographyHow the famous camera transformed photography for ever
Arts and Entertainment
The ‘Westmacott Athlete’
art
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
News
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
people
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

music
Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

    War with Isis

    Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
    Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

    A spring in your step?

    Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
    Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

    Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

    Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
    Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

    Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

    For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
    Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

    Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

    As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
    The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

    UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

    Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
    Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

    Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

    Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
    Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

    Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

    If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
    10 best compact cameras

    A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

    If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
    Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

    Paul Scholes column

    Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
    Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

    Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

    Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
    Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

    Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

    The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
    General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

    The masterminds behind the election

    How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
    Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

    Machine Gun America

    The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
    The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

    The ethics of pet food

    Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?